Tag Archives: United States

Time To Really ReThink The US Postal Service

United States Postal Service
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I know that this subject has been on the back burner for quite some time, what with the Postal Service losing billions with a b each year and currently owing the United States something like $12 billion.

Business and technology evolve just as living things evolve.  Just as some living things go extinct, so do businesses.  Some of the time the extinctions are caused by the interaction with other living things, and some times the extinctions arise because the environment has changed making it no longer possible to live.  We try to save things from becoming extinct, but often it is a fruitless effort.

The Postal Service is on the verge of (actually well-positioned to) becoming extinct.  Instead of looking for ways to keep this endangered business alive, we should be working toward determining what will fill its space when it dies.

We believe the plan allows the USPS to preserve its mission while also becoming economically self-sustaining.

So says a consultant hired to construct "the plan."   However, it is my opinion that the Postal Service will never become economically self-sustaining.  In fact, the plan calls for a large increase in rates coupled with a large decrease in services.  That does not bode well for "becoming economically self-sustaining."  What it may do, however, is open up more space for a replacement service.

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#dailyshow: Decisions Are Best Left Up To The Government.

We've beaten this subject to death.   Obama backed away from involving religious freedom and I am straight with that in the sense that I don't believe there to be any intrusion into religious freedom following this compromise (caving, some people would say) on the part of Obama.  But that is not why I post this.

No, I post this because of one single statement in this entire 6+ minute diatribe.  Fast forward if you want to , but at about 5:35  Jon Stewart says,

You can't just decide on your own.

This is the nutshell that contains the liberal's philosophy on nearly everything.

Wouldn't we all be better served if health insurance was removed from employment all together?


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#BarackObama: A Tax Hike By Any Other Name Is Still A Tax Hike.

Tax (Photo credit: 401K)

Republicans finally seem interested in getting something done.

My own personal views on the "tax cut" are expressed perfectly by President Barack Obama himself.

Washington shouldn’t hike taxes on working Americans right now.  But that’s exactly what’s going to happen at the end of this month, in a couple of weeks, if Congress doesn’t do something about it.

I told you this would happen.  If you recall, what we are really talking about is a "temporary" reduction in the mandatory Social Security contribution each of us makes on the first $110,000 (or so) of our individual  payroll.  This "temporary" reduction was to last for all of 2011 and then the rate would return to its normal 6.2% beginning on Jan 1, 2012.  Congress scrambled just before Christmas.  Republicans wanted some spending cuts to go along with extending the "temporary" reduction and they definitely did not want to tie in any extension of federal unemployment benefits.  The stalemate resulted in a short term, stop-gap measure that extends the "temporary" reduction to the first several thousand dollars of earnings in 2012 and is set to expire regardless of earnings on February 29, 2012.

I wrote it before and I will do so again.  The Republicans are stuck.  Rhetoric just like that from Obama himself is going to portray the Republicans as "tax-raisers" if they don't acquiesce to extending the "temporary" tax reduction.

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Monday Morning Musings

Overheard this morning on one of the news shows:

Host: Many people were saying this was totally a shock (referring to the death of Whitney Houston). Guest: It was all people were talking about at the Grammys.

While it may be a surprise and may be a tragedy, it was certainly no shock.  In fact it may be more shocking that it took her so long.

That Asian kid from Harvard who is playing in place of some injured players for the Knicks and doing a lights-out job would not be getting near the attention he is getting if he played in Cleveland.

Do you think works of fiction in motion pictures deserve preference over movies based in part or entirely on historical figures?  By way of example, do you think The King's Speech deserves less recognition than movies like Black Swan or Inception?

After watching the Grammy's last night I suggest musicians aren't starving as the RIAA would have us believe.

Mitt Romney is doing everything in his power to lose this nomination.  It is very telling that the void at the top is left essentially unfilled.


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A Matter of Semantics.

Obama has backed off on the plan to make religious employers provide for free contraceptives for its employees.  Instead, if the religious employer won't pay for it, the insurance company has to.

Women will still get guaranteed access to birth control without co-pays or premiums no matter where they work, a provision of Obama's health care law that he insisted must remain. But religious universities and hospitals that see contraception as an unconscionable violation of their faith can refuse to cover it, and insurance companies will then have to step in to do so.

Last I knew, insurance companies weren't charities.  Seems to me if the costs to the insurer goes up, the cost to the insured goes up as well.  By hook or by crook, under this plan, religious employers will still be paying for something they believe violates religious doctrine.

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Most Miserable Magazine: Forbes

Miserable (song)
Image via Wikipedia

I guess I never really paid attention to the things that Forbes magazine publishes until they published that outrageous list of worst cities in which to work that had nothing to do with the actual city in which the person was working.**

The latest list is the country's most miserable cities.  Here's how the magazine determined the losers winners.

We looked at 10 factors for the 200 largest metro areas and divisions in the U.S. Some are serious, like violent crime, unemployment rates, foreclosures, taxes (income and property), home prices and political corruption. Other factors we included are less weighty, like commute times, weather and how the area’s pro sports teams did. While sports, commuting and weather can be considered trivial by many, they can be the determining factor in the level of misery for a significant number of people. One tweak to this year’s list: we swapped out sales tax rates for property tax rates.

Let me be frank.  Miserable places to live are miserable places to live and no amount of compiling factors changes that.  When I write of miserable places, I mean the places we all think are miserable.  Where we are right now.  Our home town.  The place we went to college.  You name it.  If there's one thing we all know how to do, it's how to tell if a place is miserable.

For me, I love the Sierra Nevadas.  Would I think Merced is a miserable place to live?  Hell, no.

Unless I lived there.

P.S.  The citizens of my fair city, Toledo, Ohio (ranked #8), have responded in a big way.

** I am sick and tired of this arcane preposition rule.  Hereafter I am abandoning it to the ether of outer space.

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Religious Freedom Trumps Reproductive Freedom

U.S Postage Stamp, 1957
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Please bear with me.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The framers of the US Constitution were so pre-occupied with this new form of government they were establishing, that outside of the preamble, they forgot to include any references to the interplay between government and citizen.  So they created the Bill of Rights, a list of 10 general statements limiting the government in the lives of its citizens while at the same time creating certain rights in the citizenry against the government's intrusion.

This post deals with the first two phrases of the First Amendment, or what has been mischaracterized over the years as "the separation clause."  There are two parts to the "freedom of religion" clause.  The first is the freedom FROM religion clause.  This is very simply the prohibition on the government against getting involved in anything related to religion.  It is the clause used most often by outfits like the ACLU and others to remove prayer from public ceremony and the Ten Commandment posters from public school class rooms.

The second part is the freedom OF religion.  It has been used in many instances to preserve religious practices when they may fly in the face of secular thought. The only clear example that I can think of that the government has stepped in and shut down a religious practice is the outlawing of polygamy, even for Mormons.

Religious freedom is one of the founding principles of our nation.  However in our America, religious freedom is under attack.  I don't mean the whole prayer in school, ten commandment style attack that right wing religious zealots portray.  I am talking about the left wing agnostic zealots who find laughable the concept of a God and a people who worship God.

What is rising in its place are rights that the framers of the Constitution never imagined.  Rights like gay rights and reproductive rights.  Those touting these reproductive rights are now lined up solidly against religious freedom.   Nowhere within the actual language of the US Constitution are the words "reproductive rights" or anything vaguely resembling such a right.  In terms of hierarchy of our basic human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, reproductive rights are far down the line from our right to religious freedom.

In the case before us, the Obama Administration is mandating that certain religions violate their own religious principles.  Further, it is demanding that all employees of those religious organization violate the principles of the religion for which they are working.  It is a clear case of government violating the very essence of the First Amendment and it has no hope of every passing Constitutional scrutiny.

The employees of religious hospitals, universities and other large institutions are employees through their own will.  Neither the government nor the religion is forcing them to work there and its corollary lack of coverage for contraceptive and sterilization measures.  There are always alternatives for those who seek to have their birth control paid for by third parties.

Regardless of whether the government and its citizens feel that a religion is morally right or wrong on a subject of religious dogma, the government is not permitted to mandate a religion violate that dogma.

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Wrecked ‘Em? Nearly Killed ‘Em.

Bottle Rocket (album)
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A frat boy gets really drunk and decides that it would be really cool to launch bottle rockets out of his butt.  So far so good, right?

Well, said bottle rocket fails to launch and instead blows up, well, here's where it gets confusing.  According to reports,

[drunk guy]  placed a bottle rocket in his anus, ignited the fuse, but instead of launching, the bottle rocket blew up in the defendant's rectum

Knowing a little about the anatomy of the human gastroinstestinal tract, the rectum is actually above the anus.  This makes me wonder what direction the rocket was inserted.  How drunk do you have to be to insert it, well, you know?

But wait, there's more.  Louis Helmberg III is a student at Marshall University, where the supposed incident takes place.  Cripes, with a name like that in the WVa, he must be a freaking duke or something.  I digress.  Helmberg was present on the deck of the frat house when this unfortunate explosion occurred.   He was so frightened that he stumbled off the deck and he became lodged between the deck and an air conditioning unit.  I can conjur a mental picture of this whole sorry mess and it ain't pretty.

Now Helmburg III is suing both the fraternity and the drunk boy for, well, mostly for being from West Virginia I would guess.

Here's a report of the incident.

via boing boing.




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Seems Like A Huge Waste of Resources.

A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer.
Image via Wikipedia

Wood County is preparing for what it deems a no-refusal weekend for drivers suspected of DUI.  Under the law, drivers who are suspected of DUI have the option to decline a breath test.  Refusal does carry a penalty of a suspended license, but my lead to a not guilty verdict later on whereas submission to the test and a positve result is almost a guarantee of a conviction.

In place of the breath test, Wood County enforcement officials will seek blood test warrants.  Which means the officer must establish to a judge that there is probable cause that a driver has been operating a vehicle under the influence, must have the blood drawn and all within a limited time as to make the test legally admissible.

Blade report is here.

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